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Fri, Nov 18 2011 20:49:16 UTC

How to create a great artist web site

Artists these days have plenty of places to publish their art online. From social networks, to online galleries, we've covered these a while back. But the fact remains that you don't actually own any of those sites. They can, and do change their policies and features all the time, and while one day you may think it's enough to publish on a specific site, the next it may become something you don't want to be associated with anymore.

Facebook, with its constant privacy policy changes, is a good example of that. Every artist should have his or her own web site, because it's not complicated and can be free to do. But when it comes time to build that site, here's some tips that can help you make a great looking one.

Making a great site

First, pick a platform you'll be happy with, and that will be around for a long time. Going with WordPress is a good choice, because a majority of blogs out there run on it. You can get a free blog on their hosted service, and then pay for extra features you may need. There are a lot of themes out there to customize your web site with, and many plugins to add functionality. Some paid services make it even easier to build and customize a site, like SquareSpace, but for these you need to pay upfront.

Regardless which host you pick, and whether you make your own site, or have someone do it for you, here's a few tips to start off. First, don't do Flash. Too many artists in the past decade have handed out their site building project to someone who made the entire thing in Adobe Flash. That's bad for many reasons. First, the site is completely unreadable to many people, including anyone who doesn't have Flash, anyone on an iPhone or iPad, and any blind person with a screen reader. You can create a great looking site without having to rely on it. Instead, use up to date standard technologies like HTML5. If you don't know coding there's plenty of tools out there for it, some of which don't require you to learn much at all about coding, or again you can pay for a site builder so you can do it all on the web.

As for the visual design itself, remember that the same rules apply here as for ads or newspaper stories. What matters most is the first impression. People need to know by looking at your web site for 5 seconds exactly what it's about. That means you need to have a clear, visually appealing, and simple to navigate site. Too many designers try to cram a whole lot of information on the front page of their site, and it hurts them, because it takes longer for the average viewer to find what they're looking for.

Another tip when it comes to design is to use a navigation that people know. Side menus, or top menus, is what most sites do. Trying to be original by having an image reveal the various parts of the sites, and needing the viewer to click on objects in the scene to access other pages, can work in some ad campaigns, but can often be confusing enough for people to just leave and go to the next site instead. Worse, many sites lack basic pages like what is this site about, and how can I contact the author.

Site examples

I feel there's nothing better to illustrate these points than looking at examples. Here's a few sites I picked just because I liked their design, and to show what artist sites could look like.

This is the site of Amber Jean, and the home page is very typical to what an artist web site could look like. There's a large picture, a clear side navigation bar, the name of the person is showed in clear, big letters, there's sharing buttons to all of her social network presences, and the overall design is appealing. It's not crowded, in fact it's very minimalist, but it brings the message home in a couple of seconds. Then, should someone want to read her blog or see contact information, they can click through to those pages. Also note that the menu isn't static, it has animation features, yet it's all done in HTML, not Flash.

Here's the site of Gerhard Richter. Instead of one large image, he picked a lot of small ones. What I like about it is that the site is very consistent. All the pages are contained within the top navigation menu, and the whole site is branded in the same way. It's easy to navigate and professional looking.

This is the site of an ad agency, and again focuses on a large image. Instead of having a section that lists their various samples however, they have the large image scroll through various ones. This can work as well, as long as the content is easily understood by the viewer. The whole design is very professional.

And finally to contrast with the last example, it's not necessary for the site to be corporate looking. Using bright colors, cartoon characters, and text that's fun and light can work, depending on the message you want to send.

It's up to you to decide the kind of site you want, but hopefully with these tips and examples you now have a better idea of what's available out there, and what result you want to get.

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© 2007-2019 Patrick Lambert - All resources on this site are provided under the MIT License - You can contact me at: contact@dendory.net